signing /stamping photos : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I had read somewhere, I thing on this site about photographers numbering prints, that this was something for painters to do, not photographers. I was wondering what fellow photographers do. I met three, one who did a "series" of 12, on who did a "series" of 4, one who did a "series" of 250 or 150. Is it a personal thing? I also read in Ansel Adams, The Print, and somewhere else, that you should stamp the print with your name, adress, etc., but this baffles me because of the ink on the print (on the back). I'm reading a great book, "The Big Picture", learning a lot on copyright, and the author says to date the print with the copyright emblem, date being when copyrighted, so if anyone dates their prints, do you use the date the photo was shot, printed or copyrighted? Then I thought if I dry mount, I could stamp the back of the board, but the print could always be taken off with release paper. Any opinions would be appreciated. Thank you.

-- Raven (, October 11, 2000


i used to number prints, but i think i was just being egoist. perhaps someone who makes their living as an artist can justify doing a limited edition. i used to print on the matte surface agfa portriga (a wonderful warm chloro-bromide paper) so i could sign the print directly with pencil, but havent done that for years. now all my professional work (architectural - not fine art) is stamped on the back using some kind of weird reddish archival ink that the LOC sent me (their own special recipe, and you have to use a balsa pad). if you are fine arts type photographer, i would find a way to sign the prints rather than stamping them - there are archival pens around.

-- jnorman (, October 11, 2000.

Time to get on my soap box: The practice of forcing photographers to limited editions of prints is just a way for speculative collectors to make sure that their possesions will increase in value. I does no good whatsoever for the artist, who can no longer make copies of a print that has risen dramatically in value and benefit from his own creativity and right of authorship. Galleries many times think that limited-edition prints sell better or bring a higher price (this may be true). Personally, I am opposed to the idea of making limited editions in principle. If one of my prints goes through the roof in value while I'm alive, I want to be able to cash in on it. After all, it is my photograph! I'll probably be dead in 50 years, and that will effectively limit my output. Also, I would prefer that people buy my work because they find it moving, beautiful, inspiring etc. and not because they think it will be a "good investment". They can do their investing on the stock market.

Numbering with an open end is possibly a good way to keep track of a photographer's printing style changes over time ("I prefer the early Westons." etc.) however, it requires good record keeping and diligence on the part of the photographer.

As for signing work, I dry mount, and sign the front of the board just under the print lightly in pencil. Additionally, I stamp the back of the board with archival ink with my name, copyright info and fill in (again, in pencil) the name of the print, location, and taking and printing dates.

Any print that is worth anything on the art market is not going to be removed from its mount board with the intent of re-mounting and selling it under another name. What worth would an Ansel Adams print have unmounted and without signature compared to one that does? Regards, ;^D)

-- Doremus Scudder (, October 12, 2000.

I agree with Mr. Scudder, the only benefit to doing numbered editions is for the gallery, not for the photographer. It seems rather silly to me to do a numbered edition when you have the negative, and you can make thousands of prints. Unless you plan on printing say 100 prints from your cliam to fame negative and then burning the negative. Or manually scratch it up and poke holes in it and then make a few more prints and then burn it. Then you could have 2 series off the same negative. (Seems like i did that in college) Just make the best print you can each time you print your negative. Sign it lightly with pencil if you must on the front of the print in the border. Stamp the back with archival ink with copyright stamp, and sign it again. You can either put the printing date or the shooting date or the file number on the back of the print,its up to you. It all depends on how you file your negatives.

-- jacque staskon (, October 12, 2000.

Something that I saw reciently in a collection pf prints by Sebasito Salgado, was that stamped or impressed upon the print within the white bordes was his copyright. Perhaps this may help you.

-- David Kirk (, October 15, 2000.

There are many artists who sign and number their images. Michael Kenna is one and that is how he makes his living. If you want to then fine. To those that think it egotistical, tough shit. To number or not is a personal issue. When you number a print it means to the buyer that the value will go up as the edition sells out. No one is going to buy a print just because it is number 23 in an edition of 50 anymore than if there was no limit on it anyway. Just not how the buying public works. A gallery needs to make money too and if the artist numbers his prints in a limited edition it makes the gallery more interested in marketing or handling an artist's portfolio. Or buying it outright. Before you come to conclusions about the effecacy of whether or not to number your prints and where to do it, talk to some gallery owners. Ones who have been in bussiness for some time and ask them about it. Or just write to them. Most of us aren't going to be famous enough to worry about it so don't. James

-- james (, October 15, 2000.

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